LEO LOHAN, LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE
The days and weeks start to blur together. Hockey takes up most of my time, and I spend every other spare minute with Scarlett.
Or almost every other minute. It’s Sunday, and officially, it’s Ash’s day. I shake my head at the thought of my girl and my best friend splitting custody of me like I’m a child, but in all honesty, I feel pretty fortunate to have both of them.
Me, Jack, Declan, Maverick, and Tyler are at Ash’s house to watch the Vikings play. It’s halftime, and we’re outside, braving the December cold for a game of washers and a couple of beers. Tyler’s been on the phone basically since he walked in.
“Wonder what’s up with him,” Ash says.
I shake my head. “No clue.”
When we head back in for the second half, Tyler finally rejoins us. He plops onto the couch, jaw set and brows furrowed.
“Everything okay?” I ask.
“Yeah.” He roughs a hand through his hair. “No. Not really. My sister got suspended from school. Again.”
“Sorry, man,” Ash says.
“You have a sister?” Maverick asks.
Tyler nods. “She’s in high school. Or was. She’s one more fuck up from being expelled. She wants to come live with me.”
We’re all quiet. His phone pings with a text. He sighs and stands. “And she just got on a bus headed this way. I have to go deal with this. Sorry, guys.”
I stand to bump his fist and wish him luck.
“Let us know if you need anything,” Jack says.
“Unless you know how to speak seventeen-year-old girl, I’m probably on my own. Hopefully, I can talk her into turning around and going back home.” Ty shakes his head and heads out.
After the game, I jog across the street. Scarlett is just pulling in. She hasn’t moved in yet. She wanted to take some time and make sure things were solid with us first, but she spends almost every night here. I have to bite my tongue to keep from bringing it up daily, but the offer is out there, and when she’s ready, I’m excited to live with her.
She rolls the window down and lets the music filter out. She sings along to a Backstreet Boys song, not missing a single lyric.
“You sang this song the first night we met,” I say as I open her car door.
“I know. It’s my secret weapon.” She gives me a sexy and playful look. “It got me one night with Leo Lohan.”
“Got you a lot more than that.” I smack her ass. “What are you using it to get this time?”
“I know you have practice early tomorrow, but any chance you want to attend a fake engagement party?”
I chuckle. “A fake one?”
“Jade and Sam. They rented out Mike’s bar for the night.”
When I don’t immediately agree, she adds, “I bought a new dress to wear.”
I’m a sucker for her sexy little dresses and skirts.
“Yeah, it sounds fun. As long as we can duck out early enough I can still get under your new dress when we get home.”
I haven’t been back to Mike’s in a while, but the small dive bar has been transformed tonight. The tables are all covered in white cloths. Flowers and candles are set on each one. The neon signs are off tonight, and someone strung twinkling lights from the ceiling.
“Wow,” Scarlett mutters as she hugs her best friend. “How did you pull this off?”
“Vivian.” She nods toward a woman in all black bossing Mike and another bartender. “And the magazine is paying for a lot of it since I’m using it for the article.”
Her fiancé looks less than thrilled. We offer our congratulations to Sam, which feels a little weird since they aren’t really engaged. Or they are. I don’t understand it.
But my girl is smiling, and she looks fine as hell.
“Leo Lohan,” Mike booms my name when he finally sees me. “I had no idea it was you.”
“I get that a lot.” I squeeze Scarlett’s leg, eliciting a giggle out of her.
“I’d love to have you sign something to hang in the bar,” the likable bar owner says.
“Yeah, of course. I’ll bring a few things the next time I’m in.”
He starts to question me about our upcoming games, but Vivian interrupts and shoos him back to work.
“Does she know it’s his bar?” I ask Jade. She’s hiding out and chugging champagne like it’s her job.
“Vivian’s amazing, right? I think she’s my hero.” Jade finishes her glass of champagne and then stares at the empty flute, and blows out a breath. “Okay, going back out there.”
“Good luck,” Scarlett calls. She leans into me. “I forgot how much I enjoyed a night out with you. You look sharp, boyfriend. We should do this more often.”
We’ve been laying low in the weeks since we got back together. The media storm has died down, but neither of us wanted to burst our happy little bubble.
“Yeah?” I ask.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love staying in with you, but I don’t want to hide. Maybe we can pencil in a few Daria-approved events.”
“I’ll send you the list, and you can pick whatever you want.” I lean in, kissing her shoulder and whispering, “Are you sure you want to be photographed with the least photogenic guy in history?”
She smiles. “It’ll make it seem like you’re the one dating up instead of the other way around.”
“Oh, I am,” I tell her and slide my hands up her bare legs. No doubt about it.
The following day I slip out of bed, careful not to wake Scarlett as I get ready for my run with Ash.
“Did you do it?” he asks as soon as we start jogging away from our houses.
“No.” I chuckle, my breath appearing in front of me. “Guess where she took me last night?”
“Her best friend’s engagement party.”
Ash throws his head back and laughs loudly into the silent morning. I bought a ring two weeks ago, but every time I make plans to give it to her, something happens, and it doesn’t feel like the right moment.
I’m one hundred percent certain, but I’m not sure Scarlett is. She hasn’t even agreed to move in yet, and I’m about to ask her to do a lot more than that. I think I knew from that one night that she was it for me. I don’t want to rush her. We can be engaged for a long time if she wants. The point is, I’m in this for as long as she’ll have me.
“You need a solid, fool-proof plan.”
“You might be right.” I’d been avoiding planning a night out, unsure how Scarlett would feel about making any more of our moments public, but winging it isn’t working, and it sounds like she’s ready to be seen with me again.
Friday, I swing by her house to pick her up for our night out. Coach answers the door, holding a golf club in one hand. “Come in. She’s still getting ready.”
The clubface on that driver could kill a man. I wonder if this is his equivalent of cleaning his gun to let me know he has no problem disposing of my body if I hurt his little girl again.
“Hi, Leo.” Scarlett’s mom waves from the kitchen.
“Hi, Mrs. Miller. Good to see you.”
“How many times do I have to tell you to call me Emilia?”
“Emilia,” I say to appease her.
Scarlett comes up the stairs, placing her phone into her purse as she gets to the landing. “Sorry, I couldn’t decide which shoes to wear.”
I haven’t even made it to her feet. My gaze is glued to her ass, and I’m struggling to pry it away. Her dark red dress is molded to her, pushing those perfect tits up and hugging her ass. Fuck me.
Coach clears his throat, breaking me from my trance.
“You look beautiful,” I say as I place a kiss on her cheek. I step back, afraid I might maul her in front of her parents. “Ready?”
“Staying at Leo’s tonight,” she says as we leave.
“Have fun,” Emilia calls after us.
Coach walks us to the door. Before I can step outside, he stops me with the end of his club.
Scarlett pauses to see why I’m not following.
“Be right there,” I tell her.
She lifts her brows at the man stopping me. “Daaad.”
“One minute. I just want to have a quick chat. Hockey stuff.” He waves her off.
She doesn’t look like she believes him, but I hit the automatic start on my car, and she gets in.
“You’ll keep an eye on her?” he asks, shifting his weight and leaning on the club.
“We have tomorrow off.”
I nod. This isn’t news. It’s a scheduled rest day.
“But if my baby girl comes home crying, just go ahead and meet me there at eight sharp.”
I choke back a laugh. “Yes, sir.”
We shake hands, and I jog toward my car.
“And Leo,” he calls before I open the door.
I look up as his lips pull into a wide grin.
“If someone does try something, do me a favor. Don’t hit anyone.”
Tonight’s event is a formal, black-tie charity shindig for local at-risk youth. We valet and hit the red carpet. I’m holding tight to Scarlett’s hand. I don’t expect any altercations here, but I don’t want to give the media anything to use for tomorrow’s headline unless it’s Leo Lohan, Luckiest Man Alive.
We pose for a few photos then head inside where we find our place cards for dinner and roam around the room drinking and talking. Jack is here with a date, and Ash came solo since Talia is out of town.
My arm is draped around her waist, and Scarlett leans into me. I like being out with her like this, and that’s saying something because I used to avoid these things at all costs. Hence Daria’s demands to do more of them.
I’ve got the ring box in my pocket, and the plan is to do it right before dinner, somewhere semi-private, and then we can spend the rest of the night celebrating.
We’re about to take our seats for dinner, and I’m eyeing the perimeter to find a secluded spot to spill my guts when Tiffany Ryan approaches, holding onto the arm of Ryan Moore.
“Leo,” Tiffany says by way of greeting. She smiles at Scarlett.
I hold tight to my girl’s hand as Ryan gets a slimy grin on his stupid face. “What are you doing here, Moore?”
“Came in a few days early.” He shrugs one big shoulder.
We play Seattle again on Tuesday, and I’ve been waiting for another chance to face this asshole on the ice.
“Still having your coach pick out your dates, I see.” He gives her a once-over that makes me want to knock him out. “If my coach had a daughter like this, I wouldn’t mind so much either. What do you say, Seattle wins on Tuesday, and I get a turn?”
I squeeze Scarlett’s hand tighter. I swear to god I cannot make a scene here.
I’m about to walk away when Scarlett steps forward, rests her free hand on his shoulder, and knees him hard in the balls. “You wish.”
She’s so sly about it that few people even look our way. Plus, with the commotion of everyone going to their seats, most are too preoccupied to notice Ryan crumble all the way to the ground.
A chuckle breaks free. “I’ve been waiting to see you stare up at me from the ground, but damn if it isn’t twice as satisfying seeing her do it.” I lift Scarlett’s hand and kiss it. “See you Tuesday, Moore.”